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Yahoo! plays down Emap rumours

But rumours still thrive that Internet giant may take over UK-based publisher of FHM, Q, Empire

The rumours that have been busily circulating around Yahoo!'s possible purchase of magazine publisher Emap are still just that -- rumours. Emap and Yahoo! have both denied a deal has been formed, and on Tuesday Yahoo! UK again denied it would buy the publisher.

The gossip began cropping up last week after several publications, citing unnamed sources, reported Yahoo! was in talks to acquire the UK-based publishing company. Sunday Business revived speculation again two days ago with an article valuing Emap at more than £4bn. The article cited unnamed investment bankers.

The takeover would give Yahoo! access to world-class consumer-oriented content, including FHM, Q and Empire, among other titles. The door to an acquisition has been opened this year by Emap's weak share price, following a warning about the company's US revenues.

A Yahoo! UK spokeswoman said: "We don't comment on market rumours."

Other mergers between "old-media" and "new-media" companies have been less than stellar successes. A merger between Web portal Lycos and TV conglomerate USA Networks was called off after shareholders rebelled, and Disney's purchase of Infoseek (to form Go Network) failed to knock Yahoo! out of its dominant position in Internet traffic.

AOL's merger with Time Warner has also been criticised by some analysts as tying together two essentially different types of business, but may still prove to be a winner.

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